Don’t be that person
Last week, Mark Rutte, with a very subtle sentence, named the core of a subject that has been going on for years. He made it very clear that integrity will be even more important than ever before in the coming weeks.
Between the lines it may also have been mentioned that it is normally fully accepted in the Netherlands to “look for the loopholes in the law”. Is that indeed something typically Dutch? Entire Zuidas offices do nothing but this for days and nights.
The answer to the question of whether it is normal to explore the boundaries of legislation or whether it is totally undesirable, I leave it to your own interpretation. The fact is that crossing the border is not appreciated and is often punished. I have also seen a change in how companies deal with looking for loopholes in the law in recent years.
The big yellow M
Let me first explain what exactly I mean by this. Much, much more than roughly 10 years ago, organizations are engaged in “doing good” for society. Just think of all companies that indicate how sustainable they are made for products. A clear example is McDonald’s that have changed their corporate identity from Red / Yellow to Green / Yellow. Green is a color associated with terms such as sustainable, healthy, natural and reliable. Whether these terms actually fit with McDonald’s is an interesting question.
If you could behave…
Certainly in the financial sector, companies are expected to “do good” for society. In this sector, this mainly means that financial institutions do not allow their systems to be abused by criminals. This happened frequently, as a result of which the compliance sector has become large in recent years. Companies are no longer expected to act exactly according to the letters of the legislation, but rather according to the spirit of the legislation, according to the underlying idea of that legislation. Companies can no longer push the boundaries and have to show that they are doing everything they can to not cooperate in crime or fraud, for example.
The examples where this has gone wrong in the past are often painful to read. From a distance it seems so easy to say; if the risk is too great or impossible to estimate, then you should not cooperate with such a party. This was usually supplanted by Dutch capitalism, as long as it somehow fits within the law then money could be made.
Are you contributing to the solution?
These times are over, on an individual and organizational level. Organizations can no longer get away with pushing the boundaries of legislation. They are strictly controlled by the government. They must be able to demonstrate that they do everything they can to avoid participating in financial crime. At the moment individuals are also, just think back to what Rutte said, responsible for how they behave in society. You can no longer get away by pushing the boundaries of the spirit of the law. Integrity is more important now than ever. Can you look at yourself in the mirror and say that you are part of the solution?
Written by Reinier Snethlage
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